It’s Been Too Long

It’s been way too long since we’ve made pancakes on the weekend, dear readers.  Were you thinking the same thing?

Then let me offer you my apology, coupled with a recipe for coconut banana pancakes.

Because isn’t life about figuring out what to do with those bananas you let sit out for too long?  They’re not just for muffins!  Although I have a new recipe for those coming soon.

But first, breakfast!  Meal of champions!  Especially when you have the time to sink your teeth into banana-studded pancakes, laced, in this case, with coconut milk.  Fluffy clouds of deliciousness drowned in sticky sweet syrup.  I’m getting carried away.  Let it never be this long between pancake breakfasts again.

Amen.

To make pancakes for two, you will need:

  • 1 C flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 C coconut milk, preferably light
  • canola oil, for the pan
  • maple syrup, for serving
  • toasted coconut for garnish (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in small bowl.  In another bowl, mash banana and brown sugar with fork till mixture is in chunks.  Add egg to banana mixture, along with coconut milk and oil.  Stir to combine.  Fold in flour mixture.  Remember that lumpy pancake batter is a good thing, so don’t worry if this isn’t completely smooth.

Heat skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle oil on bottom.  Pour batter, by the quarter-cupful onto skillet.  Let sit till bubbles start to form on top of pancake, about 3-4 minutes.  Then, flip with spatula, and cook 1-2 minutes on second side.

As I cook more pancakes in a batch, I find they start to get too brown, too quickly, so I sneak the heat down a bit as I go.  If you’re looking to serve the pancakes all at once, keep them warm on a baking sheet in a warm oven (200 degrees).  If you like yours hot off the griddle, like we do, then serve them as you go.  Top with toasted coconut for a fun garnish.

These are from Big Girls Small Kitchen’s book, In the Small Kitchen.

It’s Hot

Outside, I mean.  In case you hadn’t noticed.

I hate talking about the weather.  But the current state of the nation is such that we’re left with few other options.  Wooden Nickels and I were talking about the weather last night, and how it makes her not want to turn on her oven.  So she made baguettes for dinner.

*Side Note* – In my family, we speak our own language.  “Baguettes” are not just loaves of bread, they are sandwiches stuffed with summer veggies.

I did that too, recently.  I got the idea from the Big Girls, whose book consistently provides the answer to that eternal question, “What should we eat for dinner?”

I cut open a baguette.  Although I wish I had cut open some ciabatta.  Next time.  I mixed about 2 C cubed, cooked chicken with 1/2 C pesto and 1/3 C greek yogurt. I plopped some of said mixture on the aforementioned bread.

Then I grabbed some oil packed sun-dried tomatoes (always keep these in your fridge, you’ll be glad you do) and put them atop the chicken.

I then placed a loose mound of arugula on top of that, and a bright, vibrant summer sandwich was born.

I only wish I had a hunk of Parmesan to shave on the arugula before I closed up shop.  Alas.

There’s a lot you can do without an oven, dear readers.  Try something fun tonight.

The Last Roast of Winter (or, the BGSK cookbook can do no wrong)

Well folks it happened.  We made it through a DC winter without a single weather-related work closing. I didn’t think I’d live to see the day that happened.  These people have no idea what to do with snow.  But unfortunately, we didn’t really have any snow.  Or if we did, it came on a Saturday.

I’m thankful for such a mild winter.  For one, I got to run a whole lot more, and most of the time I didn’t even need my cold gear.  I didn’t have to scrape my car down ten minutes before leaving each morning.  And I didn’t feel the need for a warm Starbucks cup in my hand as much as usual.

The one thing I’ll truly miss about the cold temperatures is the ability to heat the house on a Sunday evening because of whatever large hunk of meat I have roasting in my oven.  Sunday dinners are often the most memorable, and surprisingly, they’re often the easiest, as they typically involve leaving meat alone in a low-temperature oven for several hours.  All you have to do is stay home and make sure the house doesn’t catch on fire.

We bought the most beautiful chuck at the farmer’s market this morning, with BGSK’s Beer Beef Stew in mind. Seriously, the three point five pounds of marbled meat you see above was a thing of beauty.  And it smelled good.  Raw.  I’ve never been one for beef carpaccio, but this was more tempting than I bargained for.

Don’t worry, I resisted.  My husband sat at the kitchen table and wiped an inordinate amount of drool off his face while watching me slice this hunk of beef up, though.

Things only got worse as I seared the meat, added aromatics, and left it completely alone.  For two hours.  While I worked upstairs, and he down, we kept yelling to each other, “It smells so good!”

Dear readers, I know this blog has been dark for a little while.  I know I used to post all the time, and that hasn’t been happening as much as it used to.  Problem is, when you have a cooking blog, you have to cook great food.  And though I’ve been cooking just as much as always, it hasn’t been memorable.

This dish is my grand entrance back on the blog.  It’s bold, it’s flavorful, it’s comforting, it’s hearty, and it will knock the socks off your men friends, should you choose to serve it to them.  Make it quick, as the number of cool evenings left in the year is limited.

I had my way with Cara and Phoebe’s recipe, adjusting it to fit the amount I needed, and the stock in my pantry.

To make 4 servings, you will need:

  • canola oil
  • a couple pounds chuck roast (mine was 3.5 pounds, but then I hacked off a bunch of fat, so who knows how much I ended up with), patted dry, cut in 1 inch cubes, and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 carrots, large diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (or use 1 T fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bottle beer (we used Stella)
  • 2 C beef stock
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat canola oil in bottom of Dutch oven.  Working in batches, sear meat on all sides over high heat, and set aside on plate.  Saute onions about 8 minutes, and add carrots for another two, adding a little more oil if necessary.  By this time, your onions should be good and caramelized.  Stir in garlic, brown sugar, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper, and saute till fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in thyme and bay leaf, and add beef and any accumulated juices back to Dutch oven.  Pour in beer, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of your pan.  Add broth, and mustard, and give everything a good stir.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and place in oven for 2 hours.

About 10 minutes before stew is done, heat 1 T oil in small skillet.  Add mushrooms, and saute till they release their liquids, and soak them back up again.  Toss 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in there while they’re cooking as well.

When stew is finished, remove from oven, and add mushrooms.  Serve hot, over a starch of your choice.  We had mashed potatoes.

The Thing About Thanksgiving

The thing about Thanksgiving…

Wait a second.  You all know I love Thanksgiving, right?

I mean, it’s my favorite day of the year, the one day that all other 364 aspire to.

But the thing about Thanksgiving is it’s kind of gloppy.

If your table looks anything like mine on the fourth Thursday in November, then it must appear to sag under the weight of approximately 28 cans of cream of mushroom soup mixed in amongst various and sundry casseroles.

Each year, I try and combat this mushiness by adding crisp salads, roasted carrots, and flatbreads galore to our menu.  But what do I heap onto my plate in quantities too embarrassing to mention?  Invariably, it’s stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, preferably with a giant drizzle of gravy.  Oh, and pie.  Pie is glop at it’s best.  The holiday table always seems to echo the mushy feeling in the air this time of year.

I’m completely fine with that.  I don’t fight it.  While I try and balance the textures on the table on any given night, on Thanksgiving, I’m happy to go gloppy.  It feels right.  And it tastes good.

All I’m saying is that when Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’m ready for something new.

This year, that came in the form of the Big Girls’ noodles with peanut sauce.  A great, quick dinner, and a welcome change from Thanksgiving leftovers.